LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Impatience is something Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields and wide receiver Darnell Mooney cannot afford.
The Bears (2-2) made small strides in Sunday’s 20-12 loss to the New York Giants and hope to build on those against the Minnesota Vikings (3-1) this week, even with the offense mired near the bottom of the league in most passing categories.
“I understand the process we have to go through with our offense and everything being new, everybody still learning and just trying to believe in the offense itself,” Mooney said. “It’s a process. It’s a journey that you just have to stay into it, believe in and trust the process.”
Patience is difficult to sustain when the Bears are 31st on offense and last in passing.
Fields’ 11-of-22 effort for 174 yards Sunday represented a season’s best in yardage and also included a 56-yard completion to Mooney, the team’s longest pass play this year. Fields has thrown only nine touchdown passes for a career that includes 14 starts and 16 games. He has two TD passes this year.
The lack of receiver help has been a problem, until Mooney broke out with four catches for a season-high 94 yards last week. As of Thursday, there were 58 players in the league with more receptions than all of the Bears wide receivers combined (15).
“I mean, it’s kind of hard to go to the positives when you don’t score points,” Mooney said.
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy tried to find pluses within the passing attack.
“I thought there was a lot of good moments,” Getsy said.
None of those involved the end zone, however. The Bears have scored six touchdowns but only two in their last 32 possessions.
“The deep ball to Mooney was awesome to get that going,” Getsy said of the 56-yarder. “Was it the second play of the game? We hit another one deep over the middle.
“So, the play pass was really good. We gotta win a couple more battles on third down.”
Fields has the worst passer rating among NFL starting quarterbacks at 58.7 and just climbed over 50% completions for the season at 34 of 67.
“Well, I don’t think he’s had a rough month,” Getsy said “I think he’s gotten better each week. I think he’s growing tremendously. And you know, it’s not easy. We’re playing good football teams. And it’s not easy to become the level of quarterback that he wants to become and I know that he can become.”
The struggling Bears offense went 0-for-3 against the Giants in the red zone.
“I mean, I think this past week was the only week we really didn’t, you know, do what we wanted to do in the red zone,” Fields said. ”(It’s) just execution from everybody on the offense and that’s basically it. Once we get that then we’ll be good.”
Blocking problems have been a huge part of it, with Fields absorbing 16 sacks, tied for the second most in the NFL. The offensive line faces more uncertainty with right guard/center Lucas Patrick playing left guard now for injured Cody Whitehair. He was injured against the Giants.
All of this makes it difficult for the coaching staff to evaluate Fields with an eye on the future.
“We have a lot more than just evaluating Justin Fields going on right now," Getsy said. "I think that’s easy—that's what everybody wants, to evaluate the quarterback all the time, and I get it. It’s all good.
“This is a process for all 11. There’s so many factors going into what’s going on around Justin and to just sit here and say, ‘oh we’re only focused on is this guy going to be the guy or not,’ that’s literally not even on my mind, or I don’t think that’s on anybody’s mind in this building.”
The Bears seem convinced it will take slow progress and fighting through their problems weekly rather than one breakout game to fix the passing game.
“As far as that word breakout, I don’t really think in that term,” Getsy said.
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